A caption in the Nov. 5 Maryland Weekly had the wrong identification for one of the people participating in the alumni reunion at the University of Maryland radio station WMUC. The three persons shown were Max Cacas, Sue Kopen Katcef and Bill Bronrott. (Published 11/12/87)

Nearly a quarter-century ago, Alan Batten remembers, he was watching a student mimic John F. Kennedy in a radio class at the University of Maryland when a graduate student ran in, announcing that the president had been shot.

"My roommate and I ran across campus at top speed, thinking, 'We've got to get {the news} on the air,' " he recalled last weekend.

By the time Batten reached the studio of campus radio station WMUC, the United Press International wire service had confirmed that the president was dead.

Batten immediately went on the air with the news and beat some national networks with his report.

"MUC has just learned that President Kennedy . . . is dead," the young Batten said in a broadcast that is saved on a now crackling tape.

Not knowing quite what to do next, Batten played a recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Nearly 200 station alumni recalled historic moments such as Batten's at a campus reunion last week honoring 50 years of radio on the College Park campus and the 39th anniversary of the campus station.

Among the former students attending were Lou Katz and Gene (Flash Phillips) Baxter of WAVA; "Young Dave" Brown, Vince (Vinnie Brewster) Bruce and Tim (Dusty Scott) Minor of DC-101; traffic reporter Walt Starling of WLTT, and Jay Kernis, a National Public Radio producer who recently took a job as producer of the "CBS Morning Program." Batten is now advertising director of WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C.

The alumni swapped memories of the long hours spent at the station, where the employes are known as "MUCkers."

They also hosted educational workshops that provided valuable insight to eager communications students seeking careers.

Batten's dorm neighbor, Bob Duckman, program director for WXTR radio, at first had no interest in being on the air, Batten said.

After reluctantly filling in once as a news announcer, Duckman was hooked during 1964-67.

"I was the boy from Brooklyn who, after two semesters, became general manager -- without an accent," Duckman said.

"We did everything. We sold ads, did promos, news, sports, rock and roll, classical, Broadway shows. It gave me a foundation for later on. It's sort of fun to pass this on."

Duckman added that he learned from his mistakes at the station, relating the embarrassing moment when he hung up the phone on Frankie Valli, who called him to promote a campus appearance.

"He said, 'Hi, this is Frankie Valli.' And I said, 'And I'm Superman.' "

Radio equipment was brought to the campus through the speech department in 1937, when speech professor Ray Ehrensberger, now chancellor emeritus, struck up a deal with his buddies at CBS in Washington.

"We explored as we went; there were no textbooks," Ehrensberger said.

The station was established in 1948 inside a shower stall in a basement of a men's dorm.

During the 1960s and 1970s, WMUC inhabited a rat-infested temporary building in an area of the campus known as "the gulch."

Now atop a campus dining hall, the station serves the campus at 65 on the AM dial with a round-the-clock program of top 40 hits. In 1979, it added a progressive FM station, at 88.1 on the dial, with a five-mile radius. It is an independent station.

Most alumni talk fondly of the AM channel, which is piped into the dining halls and can be picked up "on your toaster," said free-lance producer Bob Young.

Young endured part of the blizzard of 1977 giving a live play-by-play report of a Maryland-Notre Dame basketball game while crouched under a table to protect himself from the overzealous crowd at the campus in South Bend, Ind.

"It was a real thrill for us. Moreover, the game was on national TV, so I'm sure they were really going to listen to us. But at that time it didn't matter."

At a luncheon Friday, students, faculty and alumni marveled at rebroadcasts of Batten's announcement of President Kennedy's death; Don McLean playing his yet to be released "American Pie"; interviews with the Beatles and Bill Cosby on campus in 1964; a performance in Cole Field House by Peter, Paul and Mary, and an announcement of the cocaine-induced death of basketball star Len Bias in 1986.

"The reunion establishes a past and a future," said Brian Wendell Morton. Morton, who spent the past two years at WMUC and recently got a job as a reporter for WTOP, said WMUC has an underrated reputation, especially considering the number of its writers, technicians, directors and other nonbroadcast staff who have gone on to successful careers.

"If we had all {this in on-the} air talent it would really make heads turn, but a support crew in broadcast media are the unsung heroes," he said. "The station is building a legacy of those."